Jan Tschichold had been expected to follow in the carreer of his
father, a letter-painter. But he was exposed to typography at the
Leipzig Akademie, where he studied under the type designer Walter
Tiemann. His enthusiasm for avant-garde design was sparked by a
visit to the 1924 Bauhaus exhibition. In 1928, he published Die
neue Typographie, in which he advocated the use of sans serif
typefaces and assymetric layout. By 1935, however, he had reconsidered
many of his earlier positions, calling, in his Typographische
Gestaltung, for a more traditional, formal approach to typographic
design. He also became known for his study of medieval page proportions,
and advocacy of the golden section.
After the Second World War, Tschichold moved to England, where
he single-handedly redesigned the entire Penguin paperback library,
probably the first application of fine typography to the paperback
book, and certainly (at over six hundred volumes) one of the most
ambitious design projects in the history of type.
In 1960, Tschichold was commissioned by the firms of Monotype,
Linotype, and Stempel to create a classical typeface that could
be produced with no variations for the Monotype and the Linotype
typesetting machines, and also for hand-setting. He named the result
Sabon, which has since been adapted for phototypesetting systems,
and continues to grow in popularity, particularly in Europe.